Episode 1 Recap
I half expect Season 8 designer Mondo Guerra to show up for "All Stars" with Jessica Simpson and Heidi Klum wearing polka dot gowns and carrying his luggage (which probably contains mostly jorts, spectacles and single drop earrings). Alas, he struts onto the show alone, soon to be swept into the arms of his seasonmate, that Lil' Designer Who Kinda Could, Michael Costello. Even the gritty streets of NYC, littered with graffiti and 5-speed bikes, are no match for the adorable reunion, and "Project Runway All Stars" has officially begun!
There are no words, only poetry when my eyes first spot Mr. Austin Scarlett, so I'll let a haiku do what mere words cannot:
Spring in trousered step
Blonde coif reflects summer sun
Loafers without socks.
While the designers tell us how much they want to win this time around, Rami shows up for his "Runway" redux faced with the impossible task of making us see he's gotten hotter since Season 4. He succeeds, with chest and arm muscles that can only be described as derivative of Zac Efron in "The Lucky One." My love letter extends to include Mila's fierce red lip, Kenley's super cute shorts, and Anthony and Jerell's everything.
We get so used to this family of familiar faces, and then it's time to meet the new host and judges. Supermodel Angela Lindvall (who's cool and fun and seems like the type of friend who responds "Duh! Where/when? I'm THERE." When you mass-text "Brunch?" to your friends on a Sunday morn) greets the designers and shares the following exciting/terrifying news:
First, there is NO immunity.
Second, the winner will take home: the chance to sell their collection in select Neiman Marcus stores and on NeimanMarcus.com, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, a one-year position as guest editor of the mag, Brother sewing equipment, $100,000 in technology and office supplies from HP and Intel, and $100,000 cash. (Jerell, still want that sash and tiara?)
Third, Angela will be joined on the judging panel by Isaac Mizrahi and Marchesa designer/co-founder Georgina Chapman. I agree with April and Anthony — they know and we know what the "Project Runway" judges love/hate/think of the 13 designers standing before us. If coming back for Round 2 is going to be a truly fair fight, the playing field has to be level, and that means all-new judges.
We get a glimpse at what the designers have been up to since their seasons when they each show a piece in the series' first runway (check out more pictures of past work here!). I love Mila's look and would wear it in a heartbeat. Mondo's outfit is predictable, but I would totally fight with Prince William's fun cousins over that kooky headpiece. There are few words for Anthony's kelly green cocktail dress and jewel-encrusted safety pin, besides "fab," "u" and "lous."
Kenley and April are two of my favorite "shoulda won"'s, and I'm disappointed by their dresses. Hopefully April's new purple 'do will encourage her to show us more color this season. I want her to stick around and know that black bodysuits and dresses won't do the trick.
For the first challenge, the designers get to live out my (and apparently, a super-psyched Kara's) dreams with a 99-CENT-STORE SHOPPING SPREE! Yup, this is the unconventional challenge, and possibly the best one in the history of "Project Runway."
Michael, who has already pointed out that Rami, a.k.a. DrapeMaster Flex Arms-R-Strong, is his biggest competition, notices that he and April both chose mops for their materials. Once in the workroom, Jerell advises Michael to have a "woman-to-woman" chat with her about their designs, but Michael is probably too afraid of April, so Mondo hides him under a mop head.
A less understandable fear is the designers' apparent uneasiness with Elisa and her "crazy" behavior — she's sitting under her table, guys, so, like, loose cannon, right? I give Elisa lots of props for setting the record straight with our new workroom mentor, Marie Claire EIC Joanna Coles. She was all classy with her "My clients pay me for my spit mark blessing," but if I was Elisa, I would have started finger-snapping and been like, "I worked on a little indie film called 'High School Musical,' Jo. Heard of it? Ever sipped soup out of a 'High School Musical'–branded thermos? Does Marie Claire have thermoses? Didn't THINK so."
I know everyone's going to be lamenting the absence of the "Make It Work" Man, but I think Joanna is the perfect person for the job this season. The All Stars need her fashion-industry insight to ultimately help them take their careers and businesses to the next level. And if my sound reasoning doesn't sway you, at least let Joanna's red blazer try.
Now, let's take it to the runway. Since YOU get the chance to be the judge and vote for who you think should win each challenge, I'll also enjoy the opportunity!
Re-examining the middle, I think Kenley's bathmat-dress-and-loofah-headpiece combo was more Top 3 than Jerell's scarf dress, and wish Anthony's purple number with the clever gold safety pin accents had gotten a little love. We don't get to see the Michael vs. April showdown, which is OK because their dresses end up being different and both are pretty great.
Mondo's dress didn't do it for me. I loved the subtly striped bodice and the hat — which was somehow even better than the one he showed earlier — but that ruffled skirt made me cringe. I do like Mondo's clothing, but never as much as I love/luff/lurve his accessories.
Rami was the clear winner for making beautiful, fancy clothing out of bags I mostly see toting the belongings of homeless people here in NYC. If I was a fellow contestant, I'd be shaking in my boots right now. And if I was a homeless person with a serious stash of those plaid bags, I'd get Rami on the horn ASAP.
The Too Soon Crown goes to Elisa, who, sure, could maybe work on her pitch, but made a daring look that was somehow artsy, hippy and Ke$ha-y all at once. And fit her model perfectly. The only way Sweet P should have been allowed to stay for her terror-y cloth dress is if she had presented it to the judges magic-towel style and they watched it transform into a dress from a Mickey Mouse–shaped disc that fit in the palm of their hands.
Elisa leaves us with the grace and the kind words I hope everyone will remember her for (spit, schmit!), and I cross my fingers that we'll see her again as a blessing-giving helper bee later in the season.
I don't have enough time to process Elisa's departure, though, as the season's teaser trailer shows us a possible Austin Scarlett/Isaac Mizrahi smackdown and more tears than the aftermath of a "Bachelor" group date. Next Thursday can't come soon enough!!
Did you think the right designers were in and out this week? Did you vote for your favorite? There's still time!